Changes have been made to the Patent Rules and Trade-marks Regulations governing the Patent Agent and Trade-mark Agent exams. The changes include more flexibility for scheduling the exams and requiring all new Trade-Mark Agents to have written the Trade-Mark Agent exam.

The amendments to the Patent Rules (PDF) and Trade-marks Regulations (PDF) were registered last week and will be published on December 18th in the Canada Gazette. Earlier versions of these changes were published for consultation in 2012.

The following are some of my initial comments from a quick read of the amendments. Please read the amendments and make your own conclusions.

Some changes to the Patent Rules

The amendments increase the amount of experience required to apply to write the patent agent exam from 12 months to 24 months – section 12(a)(iii).

Under the amended Rules, the exam can be held “at least once a year” – 14(a). Previously the exam was required to be held only once a year in April. This change provides more flexibility in scheduling the exam and the option to provide the exam more than once a year or in multiple parts. The amendments require that notice of the upcoming exams be posted in the CIPO  website (this is the same for the Trade-mark Exams) in contrast to the CPOR or Journal as in the consultation version.

Under transitional provisions, candidates who have already passed at least one of the parts of the patent agent exam maintain the credit for those parts even if they did not have the 24 months of experience at the time of writing.

Most of the substantive sections come into force on May 1, 2014, after the 2014 Patent Agent Exam is written in April.

Some changes to the Trade-mark Rules

The amendment changes the definition of “trade-mark agent” to include both individuals and firms.

Exceptions for barristers and solicitors are removed (previous under s.21(b)) so that everyone must have at least 24 months of experience (s.12) and pass the exams to become a trade-mark agent.

Existing trade-mark agents are grandfathered in and can keep their status as trade-mark agents but note that if a lawyer who never wrote the exam is removed from the list of trademark agents for failure to pay the renewal fee, they must write the exam to be reinstated – s.23.

The trade-mark amendments come into force on April 1, 2014.

[Update Dec 18, 2013: The regulations (TM, Patent) have now been published in the Canada Gazette.]